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Feds cancel $929mil in high-speed rail funds

The Federal Railroad Administration announced Thursday it was cancelling a $929 million grant for California’s high-speed rail program originally designated in 2010.

In its announcement, the FRA said that California’s high-speed rail program “repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the Project.”

Separately, the Trump administration pointed to the fact that Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California High-Speed Rail Authority revised their plan to eliminate the rail-line’s San Francisco-to-Los Angeles path.

The current rail line planned is from Merced to Bakersfield.

In February, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao argued that the chopped high-speed rail line was “a classic example of bait and switch.”

At that time, she said the Federal government had “a right to ask for that $2.5 billion back as well.”

The Railroad Administration said it was considering “all options” in seeking the return of the $2.5 billion previously granted to the State of California from the Federal government.

In a statement following the FRA announcement, Gov. Gavin Newsom called the move an “illegal and direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project.”

He continued: “This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court.”

Last year, the State Auditor reported that there was a risk in losing the entire $3.5 billion in grant funding by failing to complete the Central Valley span of high-speed rail by 2022.

Long-time high-speed rail critic Asm. Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) mused about the future of the rail system in light of the announcement.

“They have torn up central California, destroyed thousands of acres of prime farm land and taken homes and businesses,” said Patterson. “The question now is, how are they going to put it all back together before they spend all the money they have left and leave town. We are witnessing the beginning of the end.”

The San Joaquin Valley Sun
Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.